$20 in 20 minutes: Chef promotes elegant, inexpensive meals in a flash
Caroline Wright proves that cooking on a budget doesn't have to include ramen noodles and dollar-stretching meatloaf.
Her first cookbook, “Twenty-Dollar, Twenty-Minute Meals” (Workman Publishing, $12.95), is based on her willingness to look at dinner differently. It's not always about meat and potatoes, she says, and it's definitely not about serving boring and uninspired dishes.
Some of the recipes she created include Simple Miso Soup with Asparagus, Edamame and Pan-Fried Tofu; Grilled Lamb Chops with Cucumber, Oregano and Feta; Seared Pork Chops with Blood Orange, Mint and Wilted Radiocchio, and Butternut Squash Curry with Bulgur.
“These meals are almost on a scale of being elegant, not commonplace,” she says.
The food columnist and former editor for Martha Stewart's “Everyday Food” magazine is one of the speakers at the annual “GoodTaste! Pittsburgh” food show April 20 at Pittsburgh Marriott North in Cranberry.
Besides signing copies of her cookbook, Wright will demonstrate a few of her favorite springtime recipes, which include Steak with Herb Sauce and Buttered Radishes; Grilled Chicken Cutlets with Grapefruit and Watercress Salad; and Fava, Mint and Ricotta Crostino.
The recipes in her book are designed to feed four, but Wright is used to cooking for a crowd. When a dozen or more of her friends drop by on any given weekend, they're usually treated to one of her signature dishes.
“I love cooking in large batches,” she says.
She and her husband call Dallas home, but she says she has plans to move back to New York City soon. That's where she perfected her “frugal cooking” skills for her friends, a diverse group comprised of young professionals, struggling actors and hungry college students. Many of her recipes originated on her food blog and were written with them in mind.
Wright, who was trained at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris, says her secret to preparing inexpensive, quick meals is in using good ingredients, including seasonal produce and flavorful things like nuts, spices, cheese and oils that “bring a lot to a dish just by showing up.”
“GoodTaste! Pittsburgh” will feature cooking demonstrations by Lindsey Smith, author of “Junk Food and Junk Moods,” and Pittsburgh chefs Kevin Watson of Savoy and Keith Fuller of Root 174.
Show organizer Dee Weinberg says the cooking show, in its ninth year, “celebrates food as entertainment” and typically attracts 3,000 participants. New this year will be a Flavors of Pittsburgh demonstration area, wine tasting and spirits. The venue is new, too — the show formerly was held at the Monroeville Convention Center.
Candy Williams is a contributing writer to Trib Total Media.